Friday, July 30, 2010

More row houses

It's a lot of fun - for me, anyway - to look at a block of apparently different houses and mentally reconstruct a row of vanished identical "builders' specials." Take this row on the north side of 62nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. When built, probably just after the Civil War, all 9 of them were absolutely identical. I'll bet the one on the far left was simplified sometime in the 1920s, when skirts were getting shorter, jazz was getting louder, sex was getting more obvious, and "smart" people were de-Victorian-izing old houses. The one next door to it may well have lost its stoop around the same time. Stoops are being put back on vintage houses today, but there was a time when they were considered hopelessly out of fashion, and better dispensed with. The facade on the 3rd house from the left is in original condition, except for being painted white. The 4th house has a sort of Ramada Inn Colonial thing going on, and the less said about it the better. The brick house in the middle of the row replaces 2 of the original houses, a verifiable fact because the same houses pick up again on the other side of it. It's a good chance that this place was built before the house on the far left. It's scale speaks more to the arrival of upscale social types, who were colonizing this part of town in the very early 20th Century, than it does to the scaled down taste of the sophisticates who were doing house alterations in the '20s. The house just past the brick mansion looks to be in completely untouched condition, at least on the outside. The one next to it had a recent, very upscale renovation that added an extra floor.


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